Gloriosa modesta

Gloriosa modesta
Gloriosa modesta

Another wonderful climbing plant, Gloriosa modesta is from South Africa. This is a tuber rather than a bulb as such. Formerly known as Littonia modesta it has been renamed in recent years

The flowers are golden yellow, waxy and nodding, it will reach around 6ft (2m) in height and is long flowering, a little like yellow climbing bells.

A little hardier than its close relatives (Sandersonia and Gloriosa superba) this is a plant that still does not like cold freezing winters. So consider growing in a container or lifting in winter if you live in a colder zone.

While you are waiting for the new shoots to appear in spring, do not be tempted to ‘poke around’ to see what is happening below the surface, chances are you will damage the growing tips.


This is another plant with forked tubers rather than true bulbs. You can grow them from seed if you are the patient type with 4 – 5 years to flowering not being uncommon, in fact they may take 2 years to germinate.

However if you are inclined leave the flowers to set seed and wait for the seed pods to almost break open before collecting the seeds.

Plant then around 3 inches deep in a humus rich well drained but moist soil. You can grow them in containers, just create similar conditions.

  • This is a climbing plant and will need support, as with its relative make sure that you set this in place before you plant, this means you will not to damage the tubers.
  • Water in well with a liquid seaweed fertilizer and wait until new growth appears.
  • Protect new shoots from slugs and snails.

Lifting and dividing

  • In areas with cold wet winters you will need to, lift the tubers to avoid them rotting.
  • If you are container growing place the container in a dry spot away from the cold and snow over winter.
  • Bring out or replant in spring.
  • Lift and divide every 3 years and replenish the soil or potting mix with lots of well rotted compost and a little perlite to improve drainage.
  • When lifting be very gentle, dig away from the plant gently working towards the tubers so as not to damage them.